The Wrong Goodbye

By Joe Sexton and Nate Schweber: For More Info, Go Here…

Hospital staff began a conversation with the family about ending life support. “Topics covered,” read a July 23 note in the medical file. “Prognosis. End of life wishes. Emotional stress. Spiritual support.”

The next day, the records say, Williams was moved to a hospice within the facility. The 18-bed unit is run by St. Barnabas in partnership with Hospice of New York. Williams had no formal health care proxy, no designated person to make decisions about his care. He was assigned a bed in a private room.

The family soon came to an agreement, and July 29 was set as the date for the removal of the respirator, a procedure known as extubation.

Ralph was there shortly after noon on July 29. Two of Frederick’s sisters were there too. It took only about five minutes without the respirator for the man to die, Ralph said.

“We were crying,” Ralph remembered. “We prayed and everything. After they pulled the breathing apparatus and all that out, he tried to stay for a little while, but he was gone. That was it.”

Except it wasn’t. The patient they’d just had taken off life support was not Frederick Williams.

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